Two freshmen physics majors launched a brand new club on campus just five months after they started their college career.
Richard Sevilla and Justin Andre Avendaño, both freshmen physics majors, launched the Astronomy Club after learning about the fully functioning space observatory on campus.
The two friends both share a passion for learning about the cosmos. Open to all students, they said the purpose of the club is to provide the opportunity to engage with astronomy and explore the universe.
“Richard and I, we both love astronomy,” Avendaño said. “We would die for it.”
Though passionate about the fascinations of the stars, neither Sevilla nor Avendaño had any formal instruction in studying astronomy. Thus, both encouraged any student interested to get involved with the club. The sole prerequisite is just having curiosity about the universe.
“I’ve only had amateur experiences with looking at the moon from my small telescope when I was younger,” Sevilla said. “Now, I’m helping a senior complete her honors thesis project using our observatory in McNulty.”
He added, “Beyond that, I’m nothing more than an amateur looking to grow in astronomy with others that share a similar passion.”
Sevilla and Avendaño plan to have stargazing events where anyone interested can attend and examine the night sky through the campus observatory. Additionally, the club will soon host meetings about the activities of the club before the end of the semester.
The club believes that stargazing has the potential to provide students with a greater appreciation for humanity and instill a drive to rise above our minor differences, as looking at the sky could reveal humanity’s small place in the greater universe.
“From this cosmic perspective, we want people to come out with two values: awe and kindness,” Sevilla said. “We want people to be in awe of the universe and appreciate the beauty that is of the world outside of Earth. With kindness, the cosmic perspective will show us that we, as a human civilization, are on this tiny boat called Earth together, and we all have survived astronomical odds to even exist.”
Beyond astronomy at the observatory, the club hopes to expand its activities in the future, possibly coordinating with other science clubs, visiting museums and even building a rocket or rover.
Something that often pesters some astronomy enthusiasts is the common conflation of astronomy with astrology, a topic with which many Seton Hall students are quite familiar.
“I love astrology,” Lauren Sandberg, a freshman biology major, said. “I’m a Scorpio and I have an astrology app on my phone.”
An interest in astrology does not, however, necessarily preclude an interest in astronomy. Sandberg was already familiar with the observatory. “I’m in McNulty a lot for my science classes, and I have been up there, and I’ve seen the sign for the observatory,” she said.
The general public’s fascination with horoscopes and relative lack of enthusiasm for stargazing is a definite peeve of Avendaño who joked about astrology devotees joining the club, “As much as we don’t want them.”
Nevertheless, Avendaño notes that of course, all kidding aside, every Pirate is encouraged and welcome to join, as the club’s ultimate purpose is to provide an environment in which anyone excited about astronomy can gaze in awe at the cosmos.
Liam Brucker-Casey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.